President Higgins pays tribute to Former Labour minister Mervyn Taylor, who has died aged 89

Tributes have been paid to former minister, who has died at the age of 89
President Higgins pays tribute to Former Labour minister Mervyn Taylor, who has died aged 89

Mervyn Taylor: Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly said Mr Taylor 'helped change Ireland for the better' and that he would be sadly missed.

President Michael D Higgins has said the death of former Labour Minister Mervyn Taylor “represents the passing of an icon in the struggle for equality”.

Leading tributes to Mr Taylor who died at the age of 89, President Higgins described him as a founding figure in the movement for equal access for all citizens before the law.

The President said that his passing is an immense loss, first and foremost to his family but also to all those who have worked, and continue to work, towards a more inclusive, more equal and fairer society.

“Mervyn Taylor will be remembered by all those who had the privilege of working with him, as a distinguished public servant who served with such dedication, as one of the most gracious, unselfish and kindest members ever to serve in the Dáil.

"Those of us who had the privilege of knowing him, of calling him our friend and colleague will miss him deeply. I recall with fondness many of my conversations with him,” he said.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he was “so sorry” to hear of the death of Mr Taylor. 

“A democratic social revolutionary who changed the course of Irish history by legalising divorce in Ireland. A gentleman and a giant.” 

Tributes were also paid in the Dáil to Mr Taylor from the Leas Ceann Comhairle Catherine Connolly, Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty and Louise O'Reilly, and several members of government.

Credited as being the minister who introduced divorce into Ireland in 1995, Mr Taylor was born in 1931 into a Jewish family and served in the Dáil between 1981 and 1997.

He was the first Jewish minister in the history of the State. He served as minister for equality and law reform from 1993 to 1994 and from 1994 to 1997 and minister for labour in January 1993. He served as a TD for the Dublin South-West constituency from 1981 to 1997.

Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly said Mr Taylor “helped change Ireland for the better” and that he would be sadly missed.

“Meryvn Taylor is the man who brought through the divorce referendum in 1995 that helped change Ireland for the better. He must always be remembered for that. 

"We will miss him in the Labour Party. Condolences to his family and friends,” he said.

Laois Fine Gael TD and former justice minister Charlie Flanagan paid tribute to Mr Taylor, saying he was a “champion” for many good causes.

“Mervyn Taylor will be missed across the house and far beyond. Ireland’s first Cabinet minister for equality and law reform who championed many good causes. May he rest in everlasting peace,” he said.

Mr Taylor was educated at Zion School, Wesley College and at Trinity College Dublin, from where he qualified as a lawyer.

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